Setting our hearts for a new year

Meal time at our house can be shear chaos, complete with paper or plastic plates and paper towel napkins. Something is always forgotten, the moment I finally sit down is the moment we notice all that we are missing. With three littles, this is expected, but shames my good southern hospitality upbringing. 

Growing up I typically set the table for family meals. Knowing your way around a place setting was essential to hospitality in the south. The only time I remember eating off paper plates was on vacation, and even then a charger was provided. Yet, somewhere between eating on my bed in a college dorm and having young children the practice of setting the table was lost. Simplicity became the focus. As our girls are getting older and family meals have become more civilized, I’ve begun setting the table again, even with paper plates. A set table lets others know they’ve been prepared for, it stirs expectancy for the meal and conversation to come. 

As we savor the last few hours of this year and prepare to walk into a new one let’s prepare our hearts. Let’s not rush to the table, unprepared with what we need to enjoy what is ahead. 

Here are a few, simple ways we can set our hearts for a new year. 


The discipline of remembrance is one that is important in our spiritual life. There is only one time, that I know of, in the Bible where looking back didn’t end well. Repeatedly throughout scripture we see a call to remembrance. One-hundred and sixty-eight times to be exact, the word, “remember” is used.

As we prepare to walk into 2019, let’s pause to remember 2018.

Where did you see God over the last twelve months?

Much of our walk of faith is done alongside others, but our stories are still uniquely ours. Only you can look back over the last year and remember the journey. Looking back isn’t always easy, but it’s in looking back, especially on the hard moments that we see His faithfulness, grace, and provision.

As we look back we pick up stones of remembrance to carry with us into the next season. Let’s walk into 2019 heavy with remembrance of all He did in 2018 and expectant of what is to come.


A new year is full of new plans, dreams and goals. The sense of hope the new stirs is powerfully inspiring. As we seek God about our plans, dreams and goals, lets wrap them with expectancy, anticipating him to “do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond what we could think or imagine”. Let’s not pray small prayers, lets pray bold prayers in anticipation of being blown away. Let’s anticipate the unexpected.


My mom encouraged me often to prepare the night before for the next day. Now I understand the wisdom in her encouragement and wish I had worked hard to instill that discipline earlier. Being prepared brings peace and allows us to savor what is in front of us, rather than be distracted by what we’ve forgotten or not finished. Prayerfully prepare and plan with open hands.

I pray as you walk into the new year that you have a bag full of stones of remembrance and are full of hope, not for a perfect year, but one filled with awe and wonder of a God who makes all things new.

Karen Isbell